Font sizers

12 Aug 2010 - 3:04pm
3 years ago
7 replies
1053 reads
Scott Noblit
2009

I've been looking at redesigning some asset level pages (articles, etc) lately. Currently on these articles we have a font size option (small, medium and large). Unfortunately it isn't something I can get any metrics on (nor done any testing) and am wondering if anyone has any experience with the usage of these. 

It seemed like a lot of sites were including these kinds of controls a few years ago, but I'm noticing a lot of new sites (or redesigned sites) left this functionality off. Have people found that this kind of functionality is little used?

Obviously designing with an appropriate size to begin with makes it less necessary, and browsers have better functionality for this resizing too.

Comments

13 Aug 2010 - 3:26pm
Krzysztof Piwowar
2008

I think, that this function can be useful maybe for mobile devices.
And web pages... I don't know... I've never felt the need to put this tool on webpages,
becasue:

 

  • I don't belive that this tool meets people real needs
  • I've never seen any reaserch that would confirmed usefulness of this functionality

 

13 Aug 2010 - 10:05pm
Diana Wynne
2008

* I don't belive that this tool meets people real needs
* I've never seen any reaserch that would confirmed usefulness of this
 functionality

Krzysztof, you must be under 40.
Scott, I don't believe you need a full slider. Just a simple way to show users they can increase and decrease fonts 1 level. (Often small sized A and a larger sized A).
NY Times has this both in their mobile app and on the site. It's extremely useful.
For what it's worth, none of the corporate users I've worked with have any idea about browser functionality. They use the browser (usually IE) to log into a portal or corporate apps and do their jobs. They often don't realize the browser apps even menus--Print commands, etc. 
Diana

On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM, Krzysztof Piwowar <kontakt@kpiwowar.com> wrote:

I think, that this function can be useful maybe for mobile devices.
And web pages... I don't know... I've never felt the need to put this tool on webpages,
becasue:

 

* I don't belive that this tool meets people real needs
* I've never seen any reaserch that would confirmed usefulness of this
 functionality

 

(((Pl
14 Aug 2010 - 3:27pm
Krzysztof Piwowar
2008

Diana, yes, I'm under 40 ;)

But:

  • all browsers have a zoom functionality (but I'm aware that not everybody now about it)
  • you can use JS script, that will adopt font size to screen resolution (automatically)
And also (the same as it is with zoom function) not everybody nows how to use font size functionality and that this functionality exists.
So that's why font inserting font size tool on a web page is not so obvious to me.

 

14 Aug 2010 - 6:53pm
Michael Davison
2010

Hi Scott

I took a visit through The Guardian, NYTimes, WSJ, Financial Times, and Washington Post. Of these sites, none use an on-page text size tool except for The Guardian. I know that it's handy in mobile applications - NYT iPhone app uses this. It might come in handy on mobile versions of Web pages, although I would wager that under testing, most mobile web browser users would just use multi-touch gestures to zoom in or out, if the article isn't too long. How large is the content you are redesigning?

The users I've seen who require larger text to read also configure their entire computer this way: OS and browser. When I visit my dad - and he's by no means a super tech-savvy guy - he has set his browser and his OS at home for larger fonts (he's 68). What I mean is - they've already preconfigured their system to be ideal for their needs. In a situation where users share terminals - bank tellers, station agents at airports - an on-screen customization might be helpful, but for people who are going to read content on their system, at home, etc, including an on-screen option might be redundant.

As Krzystof touched on, by using JS to detect your users' browser font size, you can employ custom CSS to organize content ideally for their needs. Theres an older article that explains this in detail on A List Apart: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fontresizing/.

17 Aug 2010 - 9:05pm
Diana Wynne
2008

iPhone zooming is very different from increasing the font size using the NY Times iPhone app. It's a perfect example of where an app is significantly better than a mobile website. 
Diana

On Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 7:49 AM, Michael Davison <msdavison3@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Scott

I took a visit through /The Guardian, NYTimes, WSJ, Financial Times, and Washington Post. /Of these sites, none use an on-page text size tool except for /The Guardian/. I know that it's handy in mobile applications - NYT iPhone app uses this. It might come in handy on mobile versions of Web pages, although I would wager that under testing, most mobile web browser users would just use multi-touch gestures to zoom in or out, if the article isn't too long. How large is the content you are redesigning?

The users I've seen who require larger text to read also configure their entire computer this way: OS /and/ browser. When I visit my dad - and he's by no means a super tech-savvy guy - he has set his browser and his OS at home for larger fonts (he's 68). What I mean is - they've already preconfigured their system to be ideal for their needs. In a situation where users share terminals - bank tellers, station agents at airports - an on-screen customization might be helpful, but for people who are going to read content on their system, at home, etc, including an on-screen option might be redundant.

As Krzystof touched on, by using JS to detect your users' browser font size, you can employ custom CSS to organize content ideally for their needs. Theres an older article that explains this in detail on /A List Apart/: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fontresizing/ [1].

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16 Aug 2010 - 2:37am
Dimiter Simov
2006

Browsers used to have a nice zoom function - it zoomed only the text and kept it within the screen. It used to be very convenient for increasing font size. The zoom function of current browsers is pathetic - it zooms the entire page and the content flows out of the visible screen area. It is a shame that browsers have started behaving like this.

As for the larger/smaller font size icons, and I am quoting from memory, in our usability tests, I have observed people using websites where such controls were available, and I do not remember anyone ever using the tool to change the font size. Note, however, that observing the behavior of changing font size has not been a goal of our tests.

We all need a good nice text zooming control. A slider seems like a good idea. I think it is better than a descrete small/capital letter toggle because it gives several zooming levels and gives users the feeling of being able to fine-tune to size.

I believe the best approach is to have the control built in the browser. For example, CTRL+Roll to zoom the page and CTRL+SHIFT+Roll to zoom the text.

Dimiter

18 Aug 2010 - 10:06am
Marty DeAngelo
2007

Strangely enough, we've seen some results where people are more prone to use their browsers inherent text sizing function (via menus or CTRL + scrollwheel) more often than the page tools presented at the top of the page.  While people knew where to look and stated that they had used those tools, in the (limited) testing I've done, I've never seen anyone actually use them while I have seen 2 or 3 actually change the text size in other ways.  
Granted, this is a fairly small n (<50), but thought it might help.  We've removed the text sizing tool from most of our sites because users at this point usually know what to do.
MartyDirector, User ExperienceDigitas Health
P.S. in regard to MOBILE, I find that text-sizing tools are valuable, particularly ones that allow increase AND decreasing text size (I've found that many sites cause the text size to become huge when viewed on an iPhone in horizontal orientation).

On Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 4:28 AM, Dimiter Simov <jimmy@netagesolutions.com> wrote:

Browsers used to have a nice zoom function - it zoomed only the text and kept it within the screen. It used to be very convenient for increasing font size. The zoom function of current browsers is pathetic - it zooms the entire page and the content flows out of the visible screen area. It is a shame that browsers have started behaving like this.

As for the larger/smaller font size icons, and I am quoting from memory, in our usability tests, I have observed people using websites where such controls were available, and I do not remember anyone ever using the tool to change the font size. Note, however, that observing the behavior of changing font size has not been a goal of our tests.

We all need a good nice text zooming control. A slider seems like a good idea. I think it is better than a descrete small/capital letter toggle because it gives several zooming levels and gives users the feeling of being able to fine-tune to size.

I believe the best approach is to have the control built in the browser. For example, CTRL+Roll to zoom the page and CTRL+SHIFT+Roll to zoom the text.

Dimiter

(((
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